Introducing John Arbon Devonia – Gorgeous Devon-spun Yarns

We are often asked by visitors if we stock any local yarns, and whilst over the years we have had small batches of some, we are pleased to say we can now finally introduce a wonderful range to you.

John Arbon and his team run their spinning mill, Fibre Harvest, in South Molton, North Devon, where they cook up a spectacular range of yarns and fibres.

Grab a cup of tea, settle down and enjoy this wonderful video of their mill in action which says more than I possibly can about how skilled the process of creating these yarns is. I should add that the machine creating the skeins towards the end of the video is over 100 years old! It’s quite mesmerising and of course just fantastic to see these skills being kept alive here in Devon.

From their selection of yarns, Trish has chosen Devonia 4-ply and DK for our shop.

Devonia is a beautiful blend of 3 local breeds – Exmoor Blueface, Devon Bluefaced Leicester and Devon Wensleydale. The Exmoor Blueface is our local sheep and brings its wonderful springy nature, the Bluefaced Leicester lends its outstandingly soft handle and lustre to the yarn, whilst the Wensleydale adds its qualities of a beautiful golden sheen and fineness of fibre.

The rich, warm shades are inspired by the work of renowned 19th century French tapestry artist Jean Lurcat. There are 14 in total and each is made up of up to 5 blended pre-dyed fibre tops to create a rich melange of colour in the spun yarn. We are currently stocking every shade here at Spin A Yarn so if you’ve got your eye on any in particular be sure to pop in and have a play! We think this yarn will be perfect for everything from delicate shawls to garments and of course, it is ideal for fairisle or other colourwork. 

 

So, whether you’re eager to support the British yarn industry and British sheep breeds, looking for a gift to show off what your county can do to friends overseas, visiting the county and looking for a souvenir, or just a yarn-lover looking to try something pretty special, come to our shop in Bovey Tracey and have a look!

The full range can be found here:

Devonia 4-ply

Devonia DK

Welcoming Wool and the Gang Yarns to our Shelves

If you visit the shop you may notice an exciting new addition to our shelves – we now stock Wool and the Gang Yarns.

 

Wool and the Gang Yarns

Wool and the Gang Yarns

For those of you who aren’t already familiar with them, Wool and the Gang are on a mission to help people embrace the caring face of fashion and re-connection to their creative selves.

Founders Jade Harwood and Aurelie Popper met while studying Textile Design at Central Saint Martins in London. After school they gained experience together at Alexander McQueen and Balmain in Paris. That’s when they were discovered by former model, world traveller and yarn lover Elisabeth Sabrier. Together they founded Wool and the Gang.

The company has a strong ecological focus, with natural fibres such as wool and alpaca being prioritised as renewable and biodegradable, and also working with fashion factories to repurpose their fashion waste into new yarns to reduce landfill.

Billie Jean, one of the yarns we are now stocking, is made from 100% upcycled pre-consumer denim waste. By using no chemicals and no dyes, they manage to save 20,000 litres of water per kilogram of upcycled material! Billie Jean knits to an aran weight.

 

We also have a selection of Feeling Good Yarn – a kitten-soft, chunky-weight alpaca which knits up light as a feather, and Crazy Sexy Wool – a super-chunky, 100% peruvian wool yarn, which comes in a range of shades which are perfectly on-trend for fashionable chunky knits.

 

There are a selection of free patterns available for these yarns, or get creative and use them to knit up your favourite aran, chunky or super-chunky pattern! We can always help you find the right pattern if you pop into the shop.

To read much more about them or to send an enquiry to buy some, just head over to our website HERE.

Breezy Summer Lace Knitting

Well, after all that snow this Spring the sunshine has finally arrived here in Bovey Tracey!

But does that mean we stop knitting? Of course not! It just means that we get to enjoy working on airy, openwork lace projects and using the lovely cool cotton and linen yarns which are available to use this year.

To help inspire you we have rounded up a selection of our favourite patterns and yarns to keep you going through what we hope will be a delightfully warm and sunny spring and summer!

Don’t forget, if these patterns catch your eye but you don’t know how to do this style of knitting, we have Anniken’s Easy Lace Knitting workshop on Wednesday 9th May – it still has spaces on so just call 01626 836203 to book.

Anniken Allis has a new pattern available in The Knitter Magazine, Tor Grass, which uses Rowan’s new Fine Denim Lace yarn – a recycled denim yarn which gives a delicate stitch definition, perfect for showing off the intricate shapes of Anniken’s pattern.


Not only is Denim Lace a great choice for summer knits due to the high cotton content and fine, lightweight spin, Rowan also have a booklet of 4 designs available which is FREE when you buy the yarn!

Anniken was sporting the perfect summer garment when she came in to teach a workshop the other day – her lace poncho, Mist on the Moor.

Knitted in Schoppel Zauberball with added beading, this would be an ideal accessory to throw on when the sun goes down and you need a little warmth on your shoulders.

And of course, we are still enjoying the new WYS Florist Collection – these British-spin sock yarns are available in a delicate palette inspired by flowers – perfect if you’ve been spending time in your garden and are loving the colours.

If fine yarns aren’t your thing, we have a silky new linen-blend yarn in a DK weight from Sirdar.

Made with 10% linen and 90% lycocell, a natural, man made fibre made with wood pulp from sustainable tree farms, this yarn is incredibly soft, drapey and breathable, with a gorgeous sheen.

So, don’t put those needles away just yet – pop in and have a play with our summer yarns, a browse through our patterns, and find a project to see you through the heatwave!

 

 

 

 

Beautiful British Yarns from West Yorkshire Spinners this Spring

West Yorkshire Spinners continue to be an exciting British brand to watch, constantly working to produce new and excellent quality yarns at a really affordable price.

We were delighted with our most recent delivery from ‘up North’.

Firstly, their stunning new Florist Collection in Signature 4ply. This range of shades has been inspired by the delicate, natural shades of flowers – from Peony to Cornflower, in a range of solids and variegated colourways.

There is also a very pretty collection of patterns WYS have produced to support these yarns.

The collection features six designs by Juliana Yeo, are a combination of sock and shawl patterns, inspired by a delicate floral palette. The stunning shawl designs are both elegant and eye-catching, making them perfect for all seasons. A touch of fun is brought to the collection with the addition of three striking sock designs that complement the intricate prints of the Florist range.

Here are a few of our favourites!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Florabella, the pink crochet shawl above by Anna Nikipirowicz, is actually available separately)

WYS Signature 4ply costs £7.20 for 400m which is great value!

Next we have WYS Illustrious Naturals.
A luxurious blend of 70% Falkland Wool and 30% British Alpaca, this DK weight yarn is a great example of just how soft and warm British yarns can be. The Falkland Wool gives bouncy and crisp stitch definition, whilst the British Alpaca adds softness and lightness. WYS have made the most of the natural colour palette in this collection – did you know that undyed yarns are often softer than dyed yarns due to the fact that they go through less processing?

WYS Illustrious Naturals costs £10.95 per 100g hank and we stock it in 4 lovely undyed shades.

If you’re popping in, do ask to see the new yarns and have a browse through the patterns!

 

 

 

 

 

New super-squishy alpaca chunky in for Winter

We have a gorgeous new arrival here at Spin A Yarn…King Cole Superfine Alpaca Chunky.

This sumptuous natural Alpaca yarn comes in 5 soft neutral shades, Fawn, Koala, Camel, Charcoal and Grey. We know our customers love natural shades, and we find undyed yarn has a special softness all of it’s own. If you’re planning a trip to the shop, make sure you pick it up and give it a squeeze!

The yarn is supported by a beautiful book full patterns – from Socks, Hats & Scarves to Vest tops and shawls. With most projects only requiring 1 to 2 balls, this book is a fantastic cost-effective way of adding some luxurious natural fibre to your wardrobe. Click here to view the yarn on our site – as usual to order, pop in, email an enquiry through or just give us a call!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Cole Alpaca Chunky basket

Rowan Softyak – Special End of Season Offer

Being a British yarn brand, Rowan Yarns know all about the unpredictability of our weather and the importance of having ‘transitional’ items in a wardrobe – those cardis, jumpers and cowls which are just right for an unseasonably cool Spring/Summer day, and also perfect for a sunny winter’s day.

It feels like that kind of weather is on it’s way now, so we’re offering

10% off all in-stock Rowan Softyak!

Click here to view the yarn on our website, or read on to learn more about it.Softyak yarn

We were intrigued when Rowan introduced Softyak, an exciting new blend – 76% cotton, 15% yak and 9% nylon. Whilst yak might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Rowan, the fibres are beautifully soft and give the yarn a lovely mottled look.

Tibetan Yak

The yarn is a chainette construction which, as we know from Rowan Lima and Alpaca Merino, results in a bouncy, loft yarn which is warm yet breathable. And even better – the yarn is static resistant and anti-microbial!

Naturally there are some beautiful patterns to accompany Softyak. Rowan Magazine 61 particularly features some gorgeous patterns which really make use of the subtle colours and crisp stitch definition.

Our favourite is Periwinkle by Martin Storey, a cropped cardi which looks great on all ages – we have a sample of this one in the shop if you want to try it.

Softyak Periwinkle

Clovelly is a relaxed and slouchy jumper with more cables than you can shake a stick at – more classic Martin Storey!

Softyak Clovelly

Rockling is exactly the type of cosy card which can be thrown on in all weathers:

Rockling Softyak

And Bommie combines traditional fair-isle motifs with geometric designs for a contemporary twist.

The discount is only while stocks last, so pop into the shop and ask to see the Softyak samples if you want see how it knits up.

 

Spin A Yarn talks to….Lorna’s Laces

Lorna’s Laces are the newest addition to the shelves of Spin A Yarn. Joyce chose their hand-dyed Shepherd’s Sock range as she loved how their fresh, bright and contemporary range of colourways shine on their beautiful quality sock yarn.

LORNA'S LACES

We know this company is new to many of you, so we asked owner Beth a few questions – and hope you enjoy her replies!

1) How did Lorna’s Laces come about – how did you get into yarn dyeing? How many people now work with you?
Lorna’s Laces began life on a small hobby farm in California in the 1990’s. The original owner had a couple of sheep and a few angora rabbits whose wool she spun and dyed.

As time went on, she began buying commercially available yarn and dyeing it for her local market. And people loved it! Slowly but surely, the yarn became more well known and the company grew. But, her true love was designing patterns rather than dyeing yarn, so she decided to sell the company. That’s where I come in.

I worked for many years in publishing. It was a great job, but I knew there was something missing, passion. I left that job in 2000 and went on a search for it. I studied bread baking at the French Culinary School in Manhattan and worked some odd jobs here and there, but nothing was quite right.

Maybe I should back up a little here and tell you how I came to become a knitter. I don’t have the classic story of learning from my mother or grandmother. When I first started that job in publishing, I had just moved to a new city and didn’t know a single person. I worked from home, so things were very lonely. One day, I met with two of my colleagues and they were both wearing hand knit sweaters. I was intrigued. So, the next day, I went to my local yarn store and signed up for a class. I was immediately hooked. Not only did I love to knit, but I had found my community. I wasn’t lonely anymore. I was home.

Lorna's Laces owner, Beth

Lorna’s Laces owner, Beth

So, we’re back to the part of the story where I’m tying to figure out what was going to be next for me in terms of work. It is the fall of 2002. One evening I was thumbing through a knitting magazine and ran across one of those small classifieds in the back. There was a yarn company for sale and I replied to the ad. We spent the next couple of months negotiating the contract and in January of 2003, I became the owner of Lorna’s Laces.
We are not a big company, just seven of us. We all wear many hats. You likely to find me answering the phone or up to my elbows in dye. It’s all in a days work.

Lornas Laces stand

Lornas Laces stand

2) We love all the unusual colourways and their equally fun names. Where do you find the inspiration (for both!)
Colorways come from many places, but mostly from keeping my eyes open and paying attention to the world around me. Let me give you a couple of examples.

– One Fall evening I was walking home and noticed a big terra cotta pot of yellow and orange mums on a neighbors porch. The next morning I went into work and put dye to yarn and created Glenwood. It’s a lovely multicolor with orange and yellow for the flowers, a sage green for the leaves and brick for the pot.

Glenwood

–  Another time I was shopping for bath towels. Instead of walking in and just grabbing the color I needed, I stopped and really looked around at the way the different colors played against one another. Some of them spoke to me and a 10 minute trip turned in an hour. I moved things around, made piles and more piles, took some pictures and put everything back. That trip gave me inspiration for a few different colors.

– The last thing I want to share with you is the power of serendipity. We had a batch of a color that turned out badly. Some yellows and purples got mixed up and looked just awful. They were so bad that I didn’t even want to throw them in the millends box. I had some leftover dye from another color I was working on. I just poured them all together and tossed in the ugly yarn. Lo and behold, Lakeview was born. I had to do a little reverse engineering to figure out how to recreate it, but it was worth it. Lakeview is always one of our top 10 best selling colors.

lakeview

We really try and have fun with the names. We generally pick a scheme for the season and go around the table and everyone gets to pick a color and match it to a name that fits the scheme. We’ve done Gentleman’s Haberdashery, Favorite Chicago Landmark, Chicago Mayors, Silly Monsters….

3) What’s your favourite base yarn to dye, and how do you go about selecting unusual new yarns and fibres to add to your collection?
That’s a bit like asking “which is your favorite child”? Can I pick two? I love dyeing Shepherd Sock because it behaves very well. It’s the child who does what it is supposed to and is a bit predictable. It drinks up dye and almost always turns out the way it is supposed to. Haymarket [single ply 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool] is a bit more feisty. Colors are bolder and even though we sometimes get a surprise that extra depth of color is always worth it.

630 Bittersweet

Shepherds Sock

4) Is there a style of dyeing you most enjoy? We love your speckle and splatter shades and think they must be great fun to create!
Right now, I really enjoy dyeing SplatterShot!. I think that’s because it is new and a bit of a challenge. I have been doing the traditional multis and nearly solids for over a decade and this brings something fresh and fun to the day.

Lorna's Laces Splattershot style yarn

Lorna’s Laces Splattershot style yarn

5) For a customer new to Lorna’s Laces and wanting to try them out, what would you recommend as a great project to showcase one or two skeins of your yarn?
There are a few things that have caught my eye lately. Reyna from Noora Laivola is a lovely shawl that makes multicolors sing. Sarah Abram’s Sigrim is a great one skein project as well.
Fine Kettle by Jeanette Cross requires a third skein, but I wear mine all season long.

Fine Kettle shawl by Jennette Cross

Fine Kettle shawl by Jennette Cross

Vashti Braha’s Bare Bones Scarf is nice for crocheters. It’s so hard to narrow things down when it comes to socks. You can’t go wrong with classics like Cookie A’s Monkey Socks or Grumperina’s Jaywalker. I also like to check out Hunter Hammerstein’s offerings. Her Pelagia Noctiluca and Singularly Disenchanting are both really nice. [Note from Spin A Yarn – click on the pattern names to go and check them out on Ravelry! And if you have any trouble accessing Ravelry, we’re always happy to help you get set up.]

Jaywalker Socks

Jaywalker Socks

6) We currently stock Shepherd Sock… increasingly, many of our customers use sock yarn for knitting shawls and other accessories. What type of project do you particularly enjoy making yourself, and love seeing your yarns knitted up as?
I always have several projects going at once. Usually one that is simple that I can toss in my bag and go and another that requires a little more attention. I’ve been on a small project jag lately making lots of shawls and socks. But I’m hearing the siren song of the sweater lately. Maybe it’s because fall is right around the corner. Sweaters are substantial and there’s nothing quite having someone admire one and being able to answer “Thanks, I made it myself”.

Ripplerock Wrap

Ripplerock Wrap by Allison LoCicero – knitted in Shepherds Sock, from the latest Twist Collective pattern collection.

7) What was the inspiration behind the brand name Lorna’s Laces?
Sorry, I don’t have a good story here… The company was named by the previous owner. When I bought it, it was an established brand and I decided to leave it alone.

8) And finally, we’re great animal lovers here at Spin A Yarn. Tell us a little bit about Sam!
When I bought Lorna’s Laces, my husband and I had two Great Danes, Hank and Pearl. Isn’t if funny that I ended up working in yarn? Anyway, after we lost Pearl, we took a couple of years off. When we decided we were ready for another dog, we decided that we wanted something that would live longer than 7 or 8 years. We also talked about getting a mature dog. One that would be house trained and quiet. We even tossed around the phrase “old and fat”. Well, let me just say that plan didn’t quite work out. We went down to the animal shelter and immediately fell in love with the five month old bundle of crazy we named Sam.

lornas laces Sam

I had his DNA tested and it turns out he’s 1/2 Boxer, 1/4 German Shorthaired Pointer and 1/4 American Staffordshire Terrier. We love him to pieces and wouldn’t trade him for all the yarn in the world.

Thank you for answering our questions, Beth!

You can view the yarns on our website here or pop into the shop and ask to pet them 😉

New Summer Noro now in stock!

We’ve just received some gorgeous new Noro yarns for Summer 2016 and we thought we’d tell you a bit more about them…(click on the images to see them up close 🙂 )

First up is an exciting new Chunky weight addition to the range, called Ginga. From the Japanese meaning ‘galaxy’ or ‘Milky Way’ (銀河), this blended yarn captures the imagination with elements of glimmering silk and tonal wools.

Noro-Ginga

Noro-ShadeCard_Page_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The range of shades vary from dark and stormy to bright and spirited. On 6.5mm – 8.00mm needles this chunky yarn is bound to transport you out of this world! The blend is 40% Cotton, 30% Silk, 15% Wool, 15% Polyamide.

Next comes the beautiful summer DK Mirai. Mirai is a Japanese girls name meaning ‘The Future’ which Noro has beautifully captured in this cotton blend. Equal parts of silk and viscose give vivid colours with fantastic drape while a hint of polyamide provides strength and durability.

Noro MiraiMirai-ShadeCard_Page_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both these yarns are available in the shop so pop in or give us a phone/email to get started on your summer noro patterns!

Introducing…Malabrigo Hand-Dyed Yarns to Spin A Yarn

malabrigo yarns

When Joyce was looking for new and beautiful yarn brands to stock in our shop, one of the most frequently requested was Malabrigo.

If you’re not already lusting after their yarns, here’s a bit of information about them…

A small family business

Malabrigo started small, when two brothers-in-law started dyeing wool in a kitchen back in 2005. After achieving some good results, they started selling a few skeins to the US and before they knew it they had quickly grown to other countries in Europe and the rest of the world. To keep up with this growth, they opened a mill in Montevideo, Uruguay, where yarns are dyed and packed in large rooms with natural light. They employ mostly women of all ages, and always try to give job opportunities to people that have fewer opportunities than the average.

Punta del Este

Punta del Este, along the coast from Montevideo, Uruguay

 

Happy sheep, fewer chemicals

In 2010 the factory added a flat-plate thermal heating system to decrease the environmental footprint. Using the power of the sun, the water tanks are heated for the various processes to make their wonderful yarns. The company employs environmentally safe practices using as little water and as few chemicals as possible. As part of their ongoing effort to build a greener business, their Superwash manufacturing process now meets Oeko-Tex standards. This means the yarn is free from a range of harmful substances often found in manufacturing.

Sheep from the flock owned by Malabrigo in Uruguay

Sheep from the flock owned by Malabrigo in Uruguay

Malabrigo also now own a flock of Merino and Corriedale sheep, who live on a ranch near their headquarters. They are now able to have a direct hand in wool production from the very first step, and to ensure the humane, high-quality care of happy little sheep.

Here’s a video showing you around beautiful Piedras de Afilar and demonstrating the process by which they shear their sheep and harvest the beautiful fleece that becomes Malabrigo yarn. They strive to use sustainable and humane farming practices with their ranch and flock, saying a happy sheep makes the best wool. We couldn’t agree more!

The wonderful fibres

Most Malabrigo yarns are made with 100% Uruguayan Merino wool. Uruguay has one of the biggest wool supplies in the world, and a very, very good wool with regards to softness. Their wool is 100% produced by Uruguayan farms that allow their sheep to go free-range through the hills and are herded by traditional-style shepherds. Having felt the yarn in the shop we can vouch for the softness and extra fine quality of the yarn.

Show me some projects!

If you want to see what the subtly variegated colours look like when knitted or crocheted up, check out the Malabrigo Blog. It’s full of inspiration and pattern ideas too. You can also follow them on Instagram for lots of tempting photos @malabrigoyarn.

Malabrigo blog

The Malabrigo blog

We’ve just added their yarns to our website www.spinayarndevon.co.uk, so please do have a browse and if there’s any you’d like to buy, either pop into the shop or pop us an email.

We stock...malabrigo

Malabrigo yarns stocked at Spin A Yarn

With thanks to Malabrigo for their beautiful and highly informative website 🙂

 

 

 

Arctic Qiviut – an Alaskan Treasure

Did you know that Spin A Yarn is one of the few shops in the UK which sells Arctic Qiviut? What is this mysterious rare yarn, you might ask?

Well, as we get a lot of questions about this elusive fibre, we thought we’d do a blog post about it. Thanks to our Qiviut Yarn suppliers, Arctic Qiviut, for providing this fascinating information!

Qiviut

Origins
Qiviut is truly an amazing fiber. It is the delicate underwool of the Arctic muskox. It is one of the most sought after fibers in the world because of its rarity, softness and warmth.

Alaskan Muskox

Alaskan Muskox

The muskox is not an ox; this large hairy mammal dates back to the last Ice Age, and is most closely related to sheep and goats. The Inuit name for muskox is “Umingmak” meaning the bearded one. They have been an integral part of the Inuit lifestyle for centuries as an animal that provides a great amount of nutritious meat, warm hides and soft insulating underwool known as Qiviut to knit into clothing.

Muskox shed the Qiviut naturally in the springtime. Known as the “golden fleece of the Arctic”, it commands a high price due to it’s rarity, softness, warmth and light weight. Qiviut grows from every part of the muskox including the face, belly, ears, hooves and under the horns, and unlike sheep, are not sheared to harvest their fleece. After processing, 6 to 8 pounds of muskox fleece raw fiber will yield about 2 to 3 pounds of cleaned Qiviut fiber that is ready for spinning into yarn. Muskox grow a new layer of Qiviut in the autumn.

Alaska

Alaska

Qiviut from farmed muskox is combed out in large sheets. Qiviut from wild muskox falls off in clumps or is rubbed off by muskox on the ground or bushes. Qiviut found on the ground or bushes from wild muskox is hand collected. After the qiviut fleece is removed or collected it is cleaned by hand or machine cleaned to remove vegetation and foreign matter and then dehaired of all guard hairs. Then it is carded and ready to spin into yarn. Qiviut production is extremely limited because muskox herds are few in number and are usually very remote and isolated. Unlike in Canada and Greenland, where qiviut is a by-product of government-controlled hunting, Alaska is one of the very few places in the world where you can get hand-combed qiviut.

Arctic Qiviut have recently opened the first commercial yarn mill in Alaska! Hopefully we will be seeing many more shipments of yarn from this new mill.

Arctic Qiviut being processed at their mill in Alaska

Arctic Qiviut being processed at their mill in Alaska

Arctic Qiviut being processed at their mill in Alaska

Qiviut yarn is eight times warmer than wool and is softer and more valuable than cashmere. Qiviut yarn and qiviut yarn blends are a knitters, crocheters and weavers dream to use to create their yarnwear.

Properties

Qiviut is softer than cashmere and is light as a feather. It’s an insulating fiber and is comfortable to wear in any climate. Eight times warmer than sheep wool, pure qiviut is non-shrinkable, non-felting and is often safe for people who suffer from sheep wool allergies. Unlike some wool breeds, qiviut is not scratchy. The more you handle and wash qiviut, the softer it feels. We have noticed this as we handle the skeins in the shop!

Qiviut stack

Some of the many shades of qiviut yarn available at Spin A Yarn

Qiviut yarn might seem expensive but an item knitted in this fiber is an heirloom that can be treasured for generations. Think of it as a unique gift for yourself or that special person. We sell pure qiviut and qiviut blends – Arctic Qiviut use only use the highest grade, finest quality German angora, cashmere, baby alpaca, silk, superwash merino, and nylon in their blends.

Teacher and expert lace designer, Anniken Allis, has designed a stunning cowl pattern exclusively for Arctic Qiviut which takes just one of the smaller skeins to make – this pattern can be included free of charge for any purchase of Qiviut from Spin A Yarn!

You can view our range available here on our website – Arctic Qiviut Yarn.

Arctic Circle Cowl by Anniken Allis

Arctic Circle Cowl by Anniken Allis